For the past several months I have invested significant effort in looking at the moving pieces of what it takes to appropriately verify that an SEC XBRL financial filing is a true and fair representation of the financial information of a reporting entity. This document is an accumulation the majority of the information I gathered as part of that effort.
My next step is to distill this information in to a specific set of tasks/steps which can be used by an accountant creating an SEC XBRL financial filing which provide the verification which that accountant needs to be confident that they have achieved the appropriate result. From there I will take a closer look at software applications which assist accountants in this verification process.
If you have any views, feedback, ideas, or other insight I would encourage you to send me an email and I will be sure to consider that information as I synthesize this information.
When you look at the information in the document above I believe that you will realize, as I have, that an SEC XBRL financial filing has a definitive, finite set of pieces or semantic objects: components, facts, characteristics, parenthetical explanations, relations, and the properties of those semantic objects. These semantic objects are no different than the semantic objects of a financial report printed on a piece of paper. The only difference between an XBRL financial report and a financial report expressed using a piece of paper is the medium of the expression; the information is no different.
While there is subjectivity and judgement related to what information needs to be expressed by a financial report and how to best express that information; the actual expression itself is very objective. Besides, for something like XBRL to work effectively it seems that it must be objective otherwise the information exchange would never work. Being explicit, being consistent, and being unambiguous are traits which computers need to work with financial information effectively.